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Do You Make Enough Money? Do You Have Financial Security?

July 12, 2010 · 77 comments

in Personal Finance

There is always a lot of talk about if money can buy happiness, contentment, whatever.

Personally, I think money can buy security, which may lead to happiness and contentment.  However, how much money does it take to have that security?

At our house, our income has increased dramatically since we graduated college, as have most people’s, I assume.  If someone told me when I was 23 what our income would be at 42, I would have been quite excited.   However, it still doesn’t seem like enough.  It seems each year I am always saying ‘I wish we made $10,000 more’.

So, what’s the deal?

Part of the deal is my kids.  They are expensive creatures.  Keep in mind, they are not overly-indulged kids that have everything they want.  But they are costly.  Sports camps here, new clothes there.  Even the basics are costly.  However, part of it is because of the experiences I want to offer them.  I want to travel to places and show them things while they still live at home.

I wonder then, when will I stop wishing we brought in that extra thousand dollars or so a month?  I am guessing that will happen when the kids are done with college in about 10 years.  But then, will something else replace that expense?  Am I doomed to constantly be ‘needing’ more?

My honest assessment is that our choices are part of the problem.  If push came to shove, there are plenty of things we could cut out of our life, like travel soccer.  It is the balance of providing opportunity for the family and saving for the future.  I think our balance is pretty good, but then again, I would love to sock away some extra money too.

I suppose part of my striving for more is tied to the fact that the stock market has not performed as traditionally expected, and our home value has also dropped in a manner that was  somewhat unexpected.  Since retirement and college investments are not increasing in value like we had hoped, it probably makes me feel like we need to save more to make up for what we have lost.  (Or not ‘gained’.)

So, are you content with your income level?  Do you also find yourself wishing for just a little bit more?  Is your goal a moving target, that seems to change along with your income?  Or, do you have that feeling of security that everyone seems to be striving for?

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{ 73 comments… read them below or add one }

Split Cents July 12, 2010 at 9:14 am

Money certainly can buy security! Lately, I’ve started believing that spending is the biggest part of the equation, rather than earning. For most people, pay is relatively fixed and they can only add a touch of extra income (maybe a thousand or so) by working additional jobs, side businesses, etc. In my family, I’ve tried to take the income as fixed and adjust the spending to build security.

Unfortunately for us, our income is fluctuating WILDLY. In two years, I’ll earn 3x my current salary when I transition jobs. My wife is currently between jobs, but when she finds one, our income will shift again. For us, the challenge is balancing two moving targets: planning for a wild income ride, and ensuring we have an appropriate spending level

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Kris July 12, 2010 at 9:17 am

Split Cents – That is great that your income will increase so dramatically, that is fantastic. Your income level can only go up it looks like since your wife is currently unemployed. I guess all you can do is budget to live at the income level you are at now, and all the rest will be extra when it all comes together. That will be an exciting time!!

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Khaleef @ KNS Financial July 12, 2010 at 11:06 am

I am making more money than I ever have, yet because of my poor decisions (and student loans) I always wish for more.

I understand exactly how you feel, because I can compare my expenses from a few years ago to now and see a lot of additions.

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Kris July 12, 2010 at 11:23 am

Isn’t it funny how no matter what you make, more would always be nice? Expenses do tend to creep up on us. I guess part of it is just technology. If I went back and lived like we did in my childhood, there would be no cell phone, internet, or cable tv bills. But I love my technology! 🙂

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The Wealth Artisan July 12, 2010 at 12:25 pm

Hello Kris!

It’s a tough question to answer. We would always love to have more, but we strive to look at it from a percentages aspect. The reason people tend to want more is because they want to save more without affecting their current quality of life.

We try to consider it like this: we will lower our current quality of life in order to reach our savings goals. After all, quality of life is relative. There are billionaires out there that would cringe at the thought of living the quality of life that we are striving towards.

In that context, a few small steps back doesn’t seem so bad anymore, after all, it is still head and shoulders above the quality of life that many people wake up to everyday. It is an interesting question that you pose, and the short answer is: yes, we do want more, but in the absence of abundance we will cut back to create a surplus.

Thanks,
Timothy
Wealth Artisan Team Member
http://WealthArtisan.com

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Kris July 12, 2010 at 1:09 pm

Wealth Artisan – you are right, we do have it better than many in the world. I just wonder if I will ever reach a point where I say ‘ok, we will be fine from here, no need to stress about more money’.

I will let you know if that ever happens!

Thanks for commenting!

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Budgeting in the Fun Stuff July 12, 2010 at 1:02 pm

Well, we make enough to have security, but I’ll always want more.

I think there are lines…for us, we need at least $50,000 a year to live without debt and save a little for our future – anything over that is just extra security and fun and an earlier retirement. That’s why I want more…I like security AND fun AND the idea of an earlier retirement. I’m pretty happy with our current $80,000 a year, but I wouldn’t turn down a huge raise. 🙂

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Kris July 12, 2010 at 1:11 pm

BFS – My thoughts exactly. I want security, fun and retirement too. (Oh wait, I am ‘retired’ ha ha)

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Money Funk July 12, 2010 at 4:51 pm

Oh, kids are darn expensive! LOL. Have a 10 and 15 yr old. I know. LOL. Actually, there is a new trend going on for me and I don’t require the need for more money to make experience ends meet.

I want to give my kids everything, but yet I know I cannot. So, I am careful with my choices or find alternatives.

Like the daughter and I get our nails and hair style done at the college. We pay practically nil. As for sports & rec, we attend a lot of time at community sponsered events. So my kids are not missing out.

Plus, I do put away extra during the year for a summer fund. This money allows them to hit the theme parks/summer events/camping without any strain on the budget. $35/biweekly = close to $1K. Its a sweet practice I began about 4 years ago.

As for shopping, like school clothes… if I have cash and a coupon… we’re good. Just bought a bunch of stuff at Kohl’s for a really great deal. Then for backpacks we hit the trendy outlet stores (do not mistake for outlet malls – I don’t think you save anything at those places).

Oh, I could go on and on… lol. But it’s about the choices we make as parents for our children. And my husband and I do what we feel is necessary. But I maintain to live within the means I have NOW, so that I can continue to pay off debt and build wealth with all that other money I want to bring in. 😀

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Kris July 13, 2010 at 8:32 am

Money Funk – You are right, Kohls can be a fantastic place to get some deals. My kids have been growing lately, so I won’t be buying them any pants until October! I try to put away toward all the camps and such, but I was hit with ‘surprise camps’ this year. Oh well!

I have heard people have good luck at beauty schools, perhaps I shall try it!

Thanks for commenting!

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Money Reasons July 12, 2010 at 7:09 pm

So, are you content with your income level?
Not really. But reducing expenses helps. What I really want to do now is to increase my passive income, but this stock market makes it hard!

Do you also find yourself wishing for just a little bit more
Yes, every bit helps!!!

Is your goal a moving target, that seems to change along with your income?
To a degree, inflation makes it a moving target! But the tempation of Lifestyle Inflation (or lifestyle creep as I like to call it), is getting harder to resist!

Or, do you have that feeling of security that everyone seems to be striving for?
No, until I have enough passive (or non-employed) income to cover most (if not all) of my expenses! I do have a bit less stress though… It’s good to be debt free!

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Kris July 13, 2010 at 8:30 am

Money Reasons – Debt free must be fantastic. I am sure you have the ability to be more creative with your finances than most other people are!

(Although I do have a sneaking suspicious you may be lured back into a mortgage… 🙂 )

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Suba @ Wealth Informatics July 12, 2010 at 10:05 pm

We have already cut the expenses to the bone to save for a down payment in So.Cal; that makes us feel really poor 🙂 and sometimes insecure. We always want more don’t we 🙂 Really, we would love to make more. But when I actually think about it, I think we are blessed with more than enough compared to a lot of people. I think we make enough to have a feeling of security and live comfortably too.

Regarding constantly needing more, I think, I personally see me doing that. It is a house now, kids, vacation, kids education, parents retirement, our retirement… I don’t see me saying “we are set” any time soon lol.

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Kris July 13, 2010 at 8:27 am

Suba, we are not set anytime soon either. However, I can’t imagine what it must be like to save money to live in Southern California, although it is probably easier to find a ‘cheaper’ house now than it has been in quite awhile.

You can come here to Michigan and get a house really, really cheap!

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Squirrelers July 12, 2010 at 10:42 pm

If you have enough money, you can have financial freedom – which equals security in many ways. I really believe that while money can’t buy happiness, through financial freedom it can put you in a position to have better health and more time to focus on relationships.

I would of course like more money – much more! That said, while working toward financial goals, I also take the time to be thankful for what I have now. I don’t want to take for granted what I do have, as many others in this world would love to have this “middle of the middle” class lifestyle.

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Kris July 13, 2010 at 8:25 am

Squirreler – It is true, quite often I sit back and recognize how truly lucky we are. But I do admit that I think even my own life would be easier if we had just a little more income. Not income to be used for fun and frivolity, but to build up a bigger ‘cushion’ for security.

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Benjamin Bankruptcy July 12, 2010 at 10:49 pm

I was happiest when I was working part time and living in the country, where there seems to be less presure on you to “consume”. I’m not sure how to get back there but I didn’t earn a lot and I didn’t spend alot.

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Kris July 13, 2010 at 8:22 am

Benjamin – I too often think about how nice it would be to live in the country. Maybe when I retire….

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Sandy L July 13, 2010 at 5:36 pm

Our income has also gone way up in the last 15 years, but so have our responsibilities.

Daycare eats almost half my takehome pay..but hopefully that’ll get better once the kids are in school. We also decided to move my mother to town and bought a second home for her. Plus we pay a lot of her expenses.

Although daycare is painful, at least it’s a variable expense that could go away if I lost my job. 2 mortgages, not so much…so we’ve been going crazy trying to pay those off. In hindsight, thank god we were frugal early on with our first home (buying based on 1 income) or we would have never had the opportunity to move my mom near us.

Caring for young kids and an ageing parent at the same time gets pricey…but it’s SO worth it. My son will now remember picking berries in granmas garden and eating her home cooking and having her mend his pants. So CUTE.

Would I want more money? ABSOLUTELY. I always feel broke because at the end of every month, I send all my extra to wells fargo. I hate my mortgage debt..hate it, hate it, hate it. It’s to the point where I see the light at the end of the tunnel and I’m fixated on killing that debt.

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Kris July 13, 2010 at 8:23 pm

Sandy – You mom is incredibly lucky to have you pay her house payment, you are a saint! You are right, I am sure the memories will be more than worth it. But i am sure it is hard when you see your bank account getting emptier.

Good luck with all you are doing. Your actions are admirable!

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Sandy L July 14, 2010 at 8:09 pm

My mom has helped me a lot over the years. She’d give the shirt off her back and empty her savings if I asked her to. She does get $700/mo from social security and we pool our money, so she also contributes. I think the communal family thing is more common with immigrant families. I don’t feel like it’s a sacrifice at all. It’s just as it should be.

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Kris July 14, 2010 at 9:35 pm

Sandy, you obviously have a wonderful family!!

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Financial bondage July 14, 2010 at 7:40 pm

Good post and topic. If money can buy security, how much do we need to really feel or be secure? If I had $10,000 in the bank for emergencies, I’d feel some sense of being financially secure. But if I got sick and could not work for 6 months, that money would be gone in no time. So much for security.

The truth is, if we cant’ live on the income we have now, more money probably won’t help much. Most people would just increase their life style (expenses) and be right back to where they were. Struggling and worrying each month.

Kids do cost a lot. No denying that. But even with kids, we have to budget our resources, and learn to say “no we can’t afford that”. It’s hard to do. We want to give our kids the best of everything. I say that used clothing and 2nd hand toys won’t kill them. It will teach them lessons about being frugal for years to come so they won’t be slaves to debt when they get older and start working.

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Sandy L July 14, 2010 at 8:20 pm

Second hand toys rock. My son’s starting to dig tag sales because he knows mom will indulge him and buy toys if they are $1 or less. He doesn’t even ask for toys at the store anymore because I just retort with the cost of the toy and how many yard sale toys he could get with that money. $10! You could get 10 yard sale toys for that. He’s only 4 but he gets it.

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Kris July 14, 2010 at 9:35 pm

My library sells games for a dollar. We got a pretty name Scattegories game, and I felt like I scored the deal of the century! It’s great your son is learning so young!

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Kris July 14, 2010 at 9:36 pm

FB – My kids are the smallest of their friends, so we get tons of 2nd hand stuff from friends, which is great. My kids don’t even care, even though they are older.

I don’t think I could even come close to saving enough if my husband was unemployed for 6 months!

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Financial Samurai July 14, 2010 at 10:13 pm

Even a billionaire can make one more dollar! It never ends.

I wonder about the expense of kids… and whether we are ready to do anything and spend anything to provide them the best?

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Kris July 14, 2010 at 10:23 pm

Samurai – Do you mean you are wondering if you personally wonder if you are ready to do anything to provide them the best, or was that a generic question?

I can tell you, the ONLY thing I spend on are my kids. I am not saying materialistic things, but sports and other opportunities.

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Mitch P. July 19, 2010 at 9:22 am

I work all the time, but I guess since I live in the Bargain-Basement of Pay area, South Carolina – I will never have more than just enough to get by. It isn’t fair that I work as hard as my Dad & Mom did, but will NEVER be as comfortable financially as they have been & are now. Greedy companies are the culprit, where the execs & CEO’s are making millions, like the company I work for- an electronics manufacturer. Yet the workers are put on a “Pay-Freeze” for years & years. How convenient. I hope that the execs are enjoying their expensive cars, yachts & corporate jets. Whatever happened to an honest day’s work for an honest day’s pay? There WILL be a day of reckoning in which all the disgruntled workers of the world will overthrow the greedy bastards & we can start over again like it’s supposed to be.

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